FEDERAL BUDGETS AND INDIAN TREATIES [HUNTER GRAY 2/12/02 -- WITH IMPORTANT UPDATE, 5/30/02]
TIGUA STRUGGLE [HUNTER GRAY 2/11/02]
FEDERAL BUDGETS AND INDIAN TREATIES [HUNTER GRAY]-- WITH UPDATE FOLLOWING
[In addition to several discussion lists, I'm sending
this to interested
Comment by Hunterbear -- followed by a newspaper article:
Native American socio-economic and related needs in the United States are
great [as they are in the entire Hemisphere ] -- and things are certainly
not getting any better. I'm dealing here with one sector on a great big
There are almost 600 Federally-recognized Native nations in the United
States, some others that are state-recognized, and still others that,
although tribal nations in every basic sense, are not formally recognized -- at least as yet, by either the United States or a component state. The United States 2000 census indicates that there are almost 2 1/2 million people who have Native American as their racial identity -- a relatively fast growing population.
The Bush Budget FY 2003 -- minimal as pure hell on bona fide people
programs of any kind -- certainly comes as no surprise at all to Native
Americans. Or to a great many other folks.
For Native tribes and people, government appropriations and funding have
always been 'way short of any reasonable reality -- and the last several
decades of national administrations, Republican or Democratic, have
certainly been a trek on the edges of Death Valley at best and sometimes
right through its middle where the only shade comes from the Funeral
So the current Bush budgetary proposals go hard on most people in the United
States -- Native and otherwise. But in matters of this kind, the Native
situation contains a special dimension. A very special one. Treaty rights
are involved. Not just morally involved -- but very much legally.
And the Bush talk about "privatization" efforts in the realm of Indian
Education is just plain dangerous. Real Dangerous.
I [and a great many other Indian people all through the Ages] have said this
before and, because it can't be said enough, I'll say it again:
The primary and enduringly strong Native American commitment is complex and tight: it is to family and clan and to tribal nation and tribal culture --
and to the primary "serving the community" ethos. We're vigorously
committed to our communally-owned earth and to the careful and respectful
usage of all its resources. We're very protective of our sacred places.
And we fight always for bona fide self-determination and for full
And we fight for all of these critically important dimensions within the
framework of the maintenance of full treaty rights -- and vice-versa. It's
all completely inter-related.
It's super critical to Native Americans that treaty rights be kept
absolutely sacrosanct. We want full self-determination and a return to
genuine sovereignty -- but all of this has to go hand-in-hand with the full
preservation of treaty and related rights. Anything short of that is very,
very dangerous indeed to Native survival. Life-threatening.
One would hope and expect that all thoughtful, reasonably sensitive folks --
"Black or White, Chinese or Choctaw" -- support a full measure of liberty
and a full measure of bread-and-butter for all of Humanity. Native
Americans certainly do.
But in addition to all of the other sins-of-commission and certainly
sins-of-omission in the danger-fraught Bush Budget, we also have -- as we so
very often do -- this old and enduring matter of Native American treaty
Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution -- the "Commerce Clause" --
gives the Federal government, from the perspective of the United States,
jurisdiction over Indian affairs.
And treaties between the United States government are as morally and legally
valid as any other treaties ever signed by the United States with any
nation. They all fall into the context of Article 6, Section 2 of the
Constitution and thus are part of "the Supreme Law of the Land."
Even though treaty making between the United States and the Native nations
ended in 1871, the hundreds of treaties with the tribes then in existence
continue with full force -- again, legally and morally, right to this
moment. "As long as the grass shall grow."
And other Federal Native-oriented dimensions -- i.e., executive orders,
legislation etc. -- are related to all of this in various ways and fall into
that basic context. A major example would be the coming-late United States
Alaskan situation which is formally covered by the
Alaskan Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971.
These treaties and related dimensions are frequently under attack and we're
constantly defending them via every ethical resource at our command. The
treaties are fully valid and generally, sooner or later, all of the
components of an "Indian treaty" are upheld on that basis in the context of
the United States Federal court system. It can be a very prolonged fight in
the Euro-American courts -- but, relatively speaking at least, Native
perseverance pretty much wins out in the long distance run.
When the United States and its predecessors seized Native land -- often in a
blood-drenched context -- they did wind up making certain specific
commitments to the tribal nations and their people. The U.S. promised Native
Americans land and water and economic well-being, health and education and
housing and social services, and much more. And they pledged this, the
United States did, via formal treaties and collateral agreements.
But, of course and once again, it's always been a fight to make the United
States deliver on its promises.
What Bush is doing in his minimal Indian funding proposals is moving to
violate not just social justice morality generally -- but legal United
States governmental treaty and related obligations to the Native nations.
And when the Bush proposals regarding Indian education talk about
"privatization" -- well, it's time to get out the War Canoes and saddle up
Ole Paint and Sharpen the Flint and Put The Feathers On.
In 1975, one of the relatively few meaningful Native Congressional victories
of recent times was won: the Indian Self-Determination and Education
Assistance Act. This enables tribes to contract with the United States
Bureau of Indian Affairs and United States Indian Health to take over and
operate the respective facilities and programs.
In short, the Act promises a significantly increasing measure of Native
American self-determination -- within the framework of Indian treaty rights.
And where this has been done, it's usually worked pretty well: e.g., some
Native schools and health facilities and criminal justice operations. The
problem has always been that the Federal government is really, "deep in its
heart," very uncomfortable with tribal self-determination [unless it can
scuttle and dump the treaties.] So the funds appropriated under the
Self-Determination Act, regardless of Republicans or Democrats, have never
been really sufficient to run the respective educational or health or other
operation with full effective force. For that reason -- that they, the
Native nations, can very easily be fiscally cheated in this context -- many
tribes have been reluctant to get into direct control and operation under
But that particular Vision -- the general direction of the 1975
Self-Determination Act -- and not the "privatization" so sacrosanct in the
reactionary litanies and liturgies of most Republicans and too many
Democrats -- is the direction where, however presently clouded, lives the
Real Glow of the Sun.
The Bush proposals have the usual cosmetic crepe paper to lure the gullible
and give a rationale to those in his camp who may have an occasional twinge
of primal conscience. In remarks attached to the current Bush budgetary
proposals, Administration spokespersons pay a bit of lip service to the
concept of Indian control of schools. There is every reason to believe
that, given History in general and certainly the philosophical cant of Bush
et al., they are aiming -- in their final analysis -- toward classic
privatization pure and simple. In short, that means capitalists.
And anyone who expects a Bush pet like Congressman J.D. Hayworth of
Northern Arizona to fight for Indian interests [or anyone else of "the
fewest alternatives"] would be open to the jocular, time-honored Flagstaff
fraud of a gunny sack and a night-long "Snipe Hunt" up in the pines and
spruce and fir and aspens of the always chilly 13,000 feet-above-sea-level
San Francisco Peaks. Up there, you can see five states and Mexico -- but
there "ain't no snipe."
So if Bush et al. and all "their works and ways" are dangerous to vast
Humanity, they're certainly very threatening indeed to Native American
tribes and people and interests.
[The situation in Canada is very roughly -- I repeat, very roughly --
comparable to that in the United States vis-a-vis history, government
policies and anti-Native forces, the challenges faced by Natives,
statistics, etc. ]
Bush and Forces in their erosion of treaty rights are being very consistent
indeed with that old, old goal of the predatory interests that always covet
Native land and mineral and timber and water resources.
Because, once and again and again, the major powers always -- in both the
U.S. and Canada -- that seek an end to the "Indian/Native problem" and consistently yearn for Native American land and resources, are the corporate and land interests and their mainline political allies. No more, no less.
This is, again, as axiomatic as the existence of the class struggle.
And, just as basic, is the fact that we all have to keep fighting --
organizing and fighting with cunning and determination and militancy -- to
safeguard and expand our rights. We have to do this whoever we are and we
have to do it, increasingly, with all other oppressed people -- whoever
they are, anywhere.
The River of No Return keeps going -- and so will we: all of us, the Good
Folks of whatever ethnicity. We'll make it.
Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]
President's new budget offers little for tribal programs
Posted: February 11, 2002 - 11:00AM EST
by: Brian Stockes and Tom Wanamaker / Indian Country Today
WASHINGTON -- President Bush's new $2 trillion budget provides additional
billions for war but no great increase for Indian Country.
The most significant additional funding in BIA will go for management of the
troubled trust accounts, schools and guaranteed lending. The Indian Health
Service gets a five-percent increase for services, but spending on its
antiquated facilities is virtually frozen.
The budget also heralds a new policy to "privatize" BIA schools, finding
non-federal bodies to take over their management in an effort to improve
their much-criticized performance.
The Fiscal Year 2003 budget supports America's war on terrorism and gives
its largest increases to homeland security and the military. However,
non-military domestic spending, including tribal funding, is up just 2 percent, barely above the rate of inflation. The overall budget projects a $106 billion deficit for FY2002 and an $80 billion deficit for FY2003, while also proposing nearly a trillion dollars in tax cuts over ten years.
When it comes to funding for Indian Country, only a few bright spots appear.
Under the Department of Interior's $10.2 billion budget, the BIA request
includes $1.8 billion for the operation of Indian programs, a $59.2 million
increase over FY2002. The most significant proposed BIA increases are
targeted for trust management activities, school operations and the Indian Guaranteed Loan Program. For the Indian Health Service, the budget includes $2.5 billion for Indian health services, a $124 million increase over current levels, along with $370 million for IHS facilities, an increase of less than $1 million.
For trust management and reform, the budget contains an $84 million increase
for trust-related activities. This includes a $49 million increase for the
Office of Special Trustee and a $35 million increase for BIA trust program
operations and services at BIA headquarters, regional and tribal levels.
While interested in any increase, tribal leaders see this proposal as a "drop in
the bucket" in light of Interior's problems with trust reform.
"Secretary Norton may be excited to announce this new increase in funding
for trust reform, but there are a lot of other areas that need to be addressed,"
said Tex Hall, chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes in North Dakota and
president of the National Congress of American Indians. "To me, that's a
very small portion of what it should be. The tribes were never consulted about
the budget, even when it came to the trust reform issues. Is it that Interior
only responds to areas where they're feeling the heat?"
In the budget document, the White House itself criticized Interior for its
poor track record on trust reform.
"Due to problems with its tribal trust accounting, DOI cannot provide
assurances that its trust management systems and internal controls meet
federal standards," wrote the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Indian education programs under the BIA also received shocking news. While
funding for school operations did increase by $18.8 million, the budget
cited poor academic performances at BIA schools and proposed to "reevaluate BIA's role in the education of American Indian students." It said that the BIA
would hold tribal consultation sessions and then solicit private entities to
manage BIA schools that do not elect to contract themselves through
Neal McCaleb, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, said that the budget
earmarks nearly $12 million to encourage the privatization effort. Part of
the money will be used to encourage tribes to assume control of Indian schools and to hire experts to improve student performance.
"I don't want to say it's desperation, but we're at the lowest level and if
you're ready to try, it's incumbent on us to try different efforts," he
Regarding education, at least one congressman believes the proposed budget
deserves an "A" grade. "This budget proposes the financial resources our
schools must have to breathe life into the historic education reforms we
enacted last year," said Rep. J. D. Hayworth, R-Ariz., in a Feb. 6 news
release. "Of particular importance to Arizonans, because of the high value
we place on educational freedom, the president's budget includes strong support for charter schools and school choice for students trapped in failing
The congressman did not specifically mention American Indian schools in the
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., was unimpressed by the Indian
education spending, however. In his own Feb. 6 news release, he said that
the proposed $120 million for school construction and $168 million for
maintenance and repairs was a $15 million decrease from the year before. The
appropriation for tribal colleges, $39.1 million, was a $2 million decrease from the previous budget, he said.
Daschle also criticized the $646.6 million allocation for tribal housing
authorities, which he called a $3 million decrease in funds for the
construction and maintenance of affordable low-income housing. He attacked
what he called a 16 percent decrease in funding for IHS facilities, including
clinics and ambulance shelters, and the "complete elimination" of funding
for construction of detention facilities.
"Several aspects of the President's proposed budget fail to address many of
the issues Indian Country is facing," he said. "While I applaud the President
for providing an overall increase in the BIA's budget, his decision to decrease
funding for tribal colleges, hospital construction, and low-income housing,
and his complete elimination of a promising law enforcement program is extremely troubling."
Daschle touched on the sore spot of consultation, saying he was "concerned"
that the Administration floated several major ideas without first involving
the tribes and Congress. He singled out the "measure that would privatize BIA
schools performing below their public school counterparts, and an initiative
to completely restructure the Indian Health Service. "
Where the Administration has touted its intent to improve Indian schools,
talk of reforming the IHS has been decidedly low-key.
On Jan. 9, President Bush signed the "No Child Left Behind Act of 2001." In
general, this legislation gives greater accountability to BIA-funded and
operated schools concerning student progress and academic achievement and
more access to and greater flexibility in using federal education funds.
"Like their peers, Indian students deserve a good education and must have
access to good schools," said Neal A. McCaleb, Assistant Secretary for
Indian Affairs, at the time. "By his action today, the President has assured Indian Country's parents that BIA-funded schools will be held accountable for the quality and success of the education services they provide."
Part D of the Jan. 9 legislation, the "Native American Education Improvement
Act of 2001," deals specifically with making BIA-funded schools more
accountable. Of more immediate significance to Indian Country, this act:
Mandates that all BIA-funded schools either be accredited or candidates for
such within two years of enactment;
Calls for a report on the establishment of a tribal accreditation agency for
Increases funds schools can receive at the beginning of each school year;
Consolidates all BIA personnel and support services directly and
substantially involved in education within the Office of Indian Education programs; and
Authorizes a demonstration project to integrate Federal education and
related services provided to Indian students with streamlined reporting
The President's new FY2003 budget must be approved by both the House and
Senate and may undergo many changes before it reaches its final form. The budget approval deadline is Sept. 30. The federal government's 2003 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, 2002.
UPDATE: BUSH ADMINISTRATION RETREATS FROM PLANS TO "PRIVATIZE" INDIAN EDUCATION
[HUNTER GRAY MAY 30, 2002]
Notes by Hunterbear:
As many indeed have pointed out all the way through on this issue -- myself
very much included at many points -- any effort on the part of the Bush
administration to "privatize" Native schools would constitute a signal
violation of the formal treaties and related agreements that exist between
the United States on the one hand and, on the other, the respective Indian
Several hundred of these Federal / tribal-nation treaties exist today. In
addition, there are -- in the context of the Treaty Ethos -- a large number
of other very formal agreements, statutes, and executive orders involving
the many Federal [and, in a few instances, state] obligations to the
hundreds of Indian, Eskimo, and Aleut nations. This all stems, of course,
from the forced seizure of vast amounts of Native land -- virtually all of
it -- by the Europeans -- and the invasion-related deaths of many millions
of Native people in what today is known as the United States [to say nothing
of the many tens of millions of Indians killed elsewhere in the Western
Hemisphere as a result of the European incursion.]
Initially, the Bush administration didn't seem to realize the significance
of the treaties which are -- no more and no less -- as legally valid
[Article 6, Section 2, U.S. Constitution] as any others between the United
States and, say, a nation anywhere else in the Hemisphere or anywhere else
in the whole wide World. The Bush people now appear to have finally gotten
that message. Maybe. If they haven't, they'll certainly get it sooner or
It's legally and formally up to the Federal government to put the resources
into the government Indian school situation that will ensure -- as per the
treaty agreements --quality education in every sense for all of the Native
kids. The only other legal alternative for the Feds is to contract out the
educational services to the Tribes themselves via the Indian
Self-Determination Act of 1975.
This has now been done in many government Indian school instances -- and
also in a number of very important government / Indian health and criminal
justice programs. The Feds put up the money, as per treaty obligations, and
the Tribe runs the show. This can work out very well and it has in a good
number of cases.
But, first, the Tribe has to request this approach. And, for the
Self-Determination Act to work well, it's necessary for the Feds to
regularly and consistently put up the necessary funding. Justified
uncertainty on the part of many Native nations about adequate funding on an
on-going basis has led many tribes to hold back on utilization of the 1975
Self-Determination in the context of full treaty rights -- with genuinely
adequate Federal funding all the way through -- is one thing. That's part
of the answer.
But "self-determination" absent those full treaty rights and adequate
funding adds up to something known in Federal Indian Law and Policy as
"Termination" -- e.g., the purely infamous and destructive 1950s efforts
to break treaties and end the Federal obligations to the Native nations, put
the tribes on the skids, and open the door to full-scale corporate seizure
of remaining Native land and all other Indian resources. The Native
American nations and organizations and the Native people and the concerned
non-Indian allies of the Indian fought off those horrendous policies --
along with the very related and hideous one of forced Urban Relocation.
But much damage was done to our Indian people before those intensive and
prolonged anti-Native attacks were finally turned back. And the threats are
always there -- at one remove.
No Native nation will ever accept any of that. Never did and never will.
In Solidarity -
Indian School Privatization Shelved
By Robert Gehrke
Thursday, May 30, 2002; Page A23
The Bush administration won't try to privatize a number of failing Native
American schools this year after its plan failed to win support from
The privatization program was the centerpiece of the administration's
efforts to reform the schools, which are run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Many of them were found in a congressional report to be providing a substandard education.
But the plan met with resistance from tribes and several members of Congress
who said the BIA had not consulted with them before deciding on
"This was just a violation, we felt, of our treaty rights" and of federal
law, said Merlee Arviso, executive director of Dine Education, which manages
education programs for 70,000 students of the Navajo Nation. "Overall the
nation was very offended."
The BIA, part of the Interior Department, runs 185 schools scattered across
23 states, although more than 70 percent are in Arizona, New Mexico, North
Dakota and South Dakota. Roughly 50,000 students, just 10 percent of school-age Indians, attend BIA schools, with the rest going to schools run by tribes or local communities.
According to the bureau, 121 of the 185 BIA schools are already run by
tribes. The administration proposed spending $11.9 million to transfer management of
more schools to tribes or, more likely, to private entities.
Bill Mehojah, director of education for the BIA, said privatization has not
been abandoned altogether. But the proposal met with enough resistance in
Congress that BIA doesn't plan on discussing it in meetings with tribes that
are scheduled to begin soon.
Indian schools could still be operated by private contractors in time for
the 2003-2004 school year, Mehojah said.
Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.), a member of the Senate Indian Affairs
Committee, said BIA made the right decision in not pursuing its
"It is very important that our Indian leaders and education specialists be
brought into the circle" before privatization is considered, he said.
© 2002 The Washington Post Company
TIGUA STRUGGLE [HUNTER GRAY 2/11/02]
Note by Hunterbear:
The Tiguas [ located near El Paso, Texas] will -- like every Native
nation, big or small, survive -- as they've survived constant adversity
since the 1500s. Much more than that, they, like all Native tribes and
people, will fight on -- and on. And, at key junctures, there'll be significant victories -- and new mountains to climb, more rivers to cross.
The Tigua situation -- the attack on the casino so critical to their
economic health -- illustrates the great difficulty Native nations and
people consistently have in what's called the United States of America.
Even the most basic pieces of justice often hang high, very high, for Indian
people. In addition to indicating the fickle nature of the Federal courts,
the crisis at Tigua also indicates why Native people want to avoid , in
every case, involvement with the states -- never sensitive to Indian
concerns and always hostile and greedy. In this case, on top of everything
else with which the Tiguas must contend, they face old-fashioned Texas
bigotry -- rank bigotry, bigotry high and bigotry deep.
It is not enough to see Native people as "la raza de bronce que sabe morir."
We have always known how to die -- ideally how to fight well and how to die
with high courage -- but we are all fighting to live and to live well -- to
live as we wish to live.
The Tiguas will prevail. So will all Native nations -- and most of our
High court rejects Tigua stay request
Times staff, wire report [February 11 - 02]
The U.S. Supreme Court Monday refused to grant a stay that would have
allowed the Tigua Indians to continue operating their Speaking Rock Casino while the tribe's case continued winding its way through the appeals process.
Without explanation, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy handed down the refusal,
clearing the way for a final shutdown of the casino Monday night.
"In an era of declining direct federal financial aid to Indian tribes,
closure of the casino will result in devastating consequences for the tribe and the surrounding community," the tribe said in a brief requesting a stay of the
order to close. "Tribal members who lose their jobs will also lose the
protection of 'safety net' programs, such as health insurance or emergency
Last week, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans declined to
grant a stay. A three-judge panel of the appeals court had earlier affirmed
a lower court ruling that the casino violates state law and must close.
That mandate was scheduled to take effect on Monday.
The Tiguas are still waiting for a response from the appeals court on their
request to have a rehearing before the three-judge panel or a hearing before
the entire court.
Texas Attorney General John Cornyn filed a lawsuit to close the casino in
1999, six years after it opened.
Cornyn's office has maintained that state law prohibits casino-style
gambling and that the Indians are subject to that law because of an agreement they signed in 1987 that restored their trust relationship with the federal
A call to Cornyn's office seeking comment wasn't immediately returned
The tribe has said it is a sovereign nation and not subject to specific
state criminal laws. Tribal officials also have said their games of chance are
structured so they comply with the Texas State Lottery Act and that they
have the right to do anything allowed to the state.
Tribal leaders said the loss of the casino, which brings in an estimated $60
million annually, would devastate the community of 1,250 Indians near El
Funds from the casino have been used to build homes, provide scholarships
and cover health insurance costs.
"Our casino was the economic engine that provided for the welfare of the
tribe," Tigua Gov. Albert Alvidrez said. "Eighty-seven percent of our
projects are subsidized by gaming revenues ... Everything will be affected."
He said the tribe would turn to the Texas Legislature if the appeals fail.
"What we offer is legal, and we have the right to engage in gaming
activities," Alvidrez said.
Meanwhile, the tribe was offering 60-day severance packages to about 600
workers who will be laid off if the casino closes. Most of them are not